The mystery of the incarnation...

Today's thought:

Matthew 1:22-23, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us")."

There is no greater mystery in the mind of a thinking Christian as the incarnation (Immanuel: "God with us"). How was the infinite God born as a finite baby? How could the Creator of all things be born into His creation? Could a painter paint himself into the painting? Could a playwright write himself into the script? That is exactly what God did.

Listen to Paul's explanation of the incarnation, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-7 NASB). Now, what did Jesus empty Himself of? Another question we can't answer. What we can confirm is Colossians 2:9, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form."

Yet, should it bother us that we can't explain this, the greatest of all mysteries? After all, how much of the infinite God can finite man really understand? As C.A. Carson, a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explains, "You're dealing with formless, bodiless, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Spirit and finite, touchable, physical, time-bound creatures. For one to become the other inevitably binds you up in mysteries." [The Case For Christmas by Lee Strobel]

So, how could God become a man? Dr. John Lennox, an Oxford mathematician and scientist who is also a defender of the existence of God and Christianity among the upper echelons of academia says: "I remember being asked this once at a large gathering of physicists who had come to hear me lecture on the relationship of science to theology and one physicist after the lecture said, "How can you possibly believe this?...Come off it! This is going way beyond to assert that the God who designed the universe and upholds it actually became human. Can you explain it?"
I grinned and said, "Yes. But I want to ask a question first. My question is much simpler. It is this: what is consciousness?"
He said, "Oh, we don't really know what consciousness is."
So, I said, "Ok. Well let's try something simpler that comes closer to the realm of physics. What is energy?"
He said, "Ah, well, energy is something we know a lot about. We can measure it. We can use it. We can convert it into different forms..."
"But that's not my question. My question is, what is it?"
He said, "Well, we don't know."
I said, "You believe in these things but you don't know what they are?...I suspect you were about to write me off as an intelligent person because I believe in something which, if it is true, of course, is infinitely more sophisticated and complex than the things we were talking about." He said, "The reason you believe in consciousness and energy, even though you cannot explain very much about what they are, is because of their explanatory power. They make sense of various things you observe." 
He said, "That's precisely right."
I said, "It's exactly the same, of course at a deeper or perhaps a higher level, with my faith that Jesus is both God and man. It's the only solution that makes sense, that makes sense of the evidence of His life, the uniqueness of His claim that He backed up by showing He possessed the attributes of God..." [John Lennox - How can Jesus be Both God and]

Perhaps the greater mystery, though, is not how but why. Why would God leave the glories of heaven to be born in humble means to a common couple so long ago? That we can answer. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

After returning home from a long tour, Bono, the lead singer for U2, returned to Dublin and attended a Christmas Eve service. At some point in that service, Bono grasped the truth at the heart of the Christmas story: in Jesus, God became a human being. With tears streaming down his face, Bono realized, "The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself by becoming a child born in poverty … and straw, a child, I just thought, "Wow!" Just the poetry … I saw the genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this … Love needs to find a form, intimacy needs to be whispered … Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh." [Quoted in Matt Woodley, The Gospel of Matthew: God With Us (InterVarsity Press, 2011), p. 28-29.]

Indeed, it is love, for God is love and Jesus has made Him known to us. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth... No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known" (John 1:14, 18).

Prayer: Father we delight in the mystery, Your incarnation, that has made You known to us. That You left heaven to be born in such humble means shows us love that took on flesh. We love the mystery and we love the Gift, that the Giver became the Gift, a Gift we each can recieve this Christmas. In Jesus name, amen.